9.28.2014

Who Killed God?

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It's kind of ironic...nay, very ironic...that empirical science originated as an honest attempt by devout Christian thinkers to understand God's plan for the universe.

The first scientists were not atheists...they were quite religious. They believed wholeheartedly that God's plan for the universe was written in nature, and they set out to explore it vigorously.

Much of the foundation of modern science was built in the 17th century by empiricists like Isaac Newton (gravity and calculus) and Johannes Kepler (early empiricism, movement of planets). They developed the scientific method of hypothesis testing and observation (trial and error).

Eventually, though, science became so good at exploring nature that it revealed there was no "man behind the curtain" working the controls. The very science that began as a search for God's "clockwork" that controlled nature and the cosmos eventually killed God entirely.

Today, religious people hate science because they think science killed their God and made moot their divine "book." Most don't realize that science began as a religious movement to uncover God's plan. Perhaps they might argue that God did not want his plan uncovered and so he has "deceived" scientists and led them astray. This is ludicrous for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the obvious stability of natural laws whenever they are examined and the pesky fact that all life is based on DNA and genetic inheritance that proves evolution. If God wanted to hide that fact, he would have made these discoveries "invisible" to science. He did not.

In any case, God is not a deceiver. Deception is left to the Devil. So the only conclusion a Christian can logically come to is that science is the Devil's work. If that is so, they should reject all science. This includes mathematics (don't balance your checkbook!) and technology (don't use a smart phone!) and transportation (no trips for you!). Indeed, Christians should probably not even want to live any longer, since life is given by scientifically verifiable biological processes. However, I guess one can bury his or her head in the sand and just imagine that we are all...puppets. Yeah, hand puppets.

But if there is free will...who controls the puppets? And aren't scientists also just free willed puppets?

Messy.

"The Clockwork Universe," by Ed Dolnick tells the tale of Isaac Newton and the Royal Society's bold scientific experiments (like transfusing blood from sheep to humans and putting animals into vaccuum chambers) quite wonderfully.

Check it out.

8.31.2014

Thoughts and Prayers? Meh.

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I know someone on Facebook whose dad was diagnosed with cancer. I noticed that 99% of the comments on his wall after he announced it were all from people offering "thoughts and prayers."

That's nice. Also useless.

I offered instead to help out, if there was any way I could. No praying. Just action.

I don't expect this person to request my help, although I will extend it if they do. But I can tell you that my offer to DO rather than to think or pray is a lot more meaningful to this person.

Thought and prayer is a cop out from people who can't or won't extend a helping hand, or from those who actually believe prayer works.

Is that too cynical?

Your comments below, please.

8.29.2014

Mother Nature vs. Jesus

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I like Jesus. He had some good messages. The one I like best is not to judge the sins of others, because you are a sinner too, so focus on your own issues and leave other people well enough alone.

I realize I am putting a lot of interpretation into that, but everyone interprets the Biblical Jesus in different ways. I have a higher comfort level with the historical Jesus, actually, not the mythical one. The historical Jesus was a teacher and had some good messages.

The query, “What would Jesus do?” is a good one, but only if you are talking about the historical Jesus. The mythical Jesus could do a pantload of stuff that no mortal could do, so that makes the question somewhat moot to your own mortal life.

Mythical Jesus could cure sick people and walk on water. He could snap his fingers and smite a douchebag if he wanted. You can't.

I think historical Jesus would drive a hybrid car and recycle and be vegetarian and probably bike commute to his carpentry job. Those are values I can adhere to and get behind.

However, I still gravitate more to Mother Nature than I do to Jesus, historical or otherwise. Mother Nature is a moody beeotch a lot of the time, even unpredictable if you are not tuned in. But you can always understand her, at least in retrospect, because she works within the boundaries of science and the Laws of Nature.

So, I may not like Mother Nature sometimes, when she harshes my gig with inclement weather, for example, but I respect her none the less. The last couple of days, the weather forecast has been for rain, a deterrent to my penchant for bike commuting to work. But Mother Nature had other ideas, and decided to shame the meteorologists of southeast Wisconsin by withholding the waters from the sky. It didn’t rain when it was supposed to.

I did not bike to work yesterday, because the meteorologists said it was going to rain all day. It didn’t rain at all. Mother Nature was playing tricks, albeit scientifically explainable ones.

So today, even though the forecast is for rain all day, I decided to risk a bike commute to work. The commute in was fine. It was partly sunny/cloudy, but no sign of precipitation. I looked at the weather radar before I started my 35 minute ride to work and the Doppler showed no precipitation anywhere near Madison WI, where I live and work. Mother Nature has all day to change her mind, but I hope she doesn’t. I want to bike home without rain as well. I have other options though, if she decides to throw a fit. I can try taking the bus home, something I have been meaning to explore anyway. I could also bum a ride from my friend Danielle who works not far from where I do, assuming she is leaving work at a mutually convenient time. But I hope that Mother Nature continues her obstinacy with the meteorologists so I can bike home. I don’t even care if it is raining a little bit. It is the lightning that deters me.

The problem with weather forecasts these days is that they are based on weather modeling software programs that assume there is no climate change and global warming. Thus, as global warming continues unabated, the weather models become less reliable.

This is because a warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapor. So when weather models predict rain, it is based on an assumed atmosphere that is not as warm and holds less water. But the real atmosphere is warmer than that. Thus, these models underestimate the amount of water the atmosphere can hold, and predict rain before the atmosphere is fully saturated with water vapor. Mother Nature doesn’t obey the meteorologists and their erroneous weather models. She follows the Laws of Nature, religiously. It won’t rain until the atmosphere is gravid with moisture and ready to blow.

Of course, when it does rain nowadays, it rains BIG. This is for the same reason, that the atmosphere can hold more water vapor, so when the dew point is eventually reached, a lot more water falls from the sky.

This ability of the atmosphere to hold more water explains droughts (no rain when rain is predicted) and floods (excessive rain when it eventually comes). A warmer atmosphere holds onto its water longer and that means drier conditions on the ground for longer periods of time. When the water is eventually released, there is a lot more of it dumped on the ground. On top of that, drought scorched land does not absorb water very well, so when the rains come, a lot of the water stays on the surface of the ground and causes flash flooding as it seeks lower ground, because of gravity. To see this in action, take two sponges, one moist and wringed out, the other bone dry. Angle the two sponges at 45 degrees against a wall (preferably outside). Then take a tablespoon of water and pour it on the moist, wrung sponge. The water will absorb into it quickly and almost none will roll off onto the ground. When you repeat this with a tablespoon of water on the dry sponge, the water rolls off with most of it going onto the ground below the sponge. That is what happens in a flash flood.

Dry conditions also leads to wildfires and these fires can sometimes burn so hot that they “glaze” the top of the soil, essentially turning it into glass. This makes the soil even less able to absorb water and the risk of flash floods gets even greater. This happened in Manitou Springs where my sister lives when they had wildfires a couple of years ago. The whole side of the mountain near her house was glazed in the huge fire and every rainy season she has to avoid certain roads if there is any risk of precipitation because they will flood at the drop of a hat.

Mother Nature is actually quite predictable, if you understand the Laws of Nature and use the proper meteorological models to predict weather.

A lot of people pray to Biblical Jesus to protect them from natural disasters and to bless them after they occur and destroy their lives. It doesn't seem to do much good though. If you run the numbers, there is no significant difference in the probability of natural disasters in areas with more Christians. The risk is, in fact, the same everywhere. That's science, and that is why Mother Nature is a better guide to weather phenomena and related natural disasters. You can pray to Jesus all you want, but the rain is still going to come. So don't pray for help from Biblical Jesus...instead, do what historical Jesus would do, understand nature and try to live a life in harmony with it.